How do rights over musical pieces work, and particularly the mp3?
The musical pieces are protected by copyright, as any intellectual work, therefore their reproduction is not free, but it is bound by the author’s authorisation and payment of royalties. Particularly, for musical pieces, the royalty payment comes through the SIAE who takes care of collecting this from the users and distributing it to the authors in a proportional way.
The MP3 are musical pieces just like any others and benefit from the same rights, even if they are not physically recorded on records or cassettes. The MP3 are, in fact, musical files that, as text written on computer, are saved in a digital form on a support and can be listened to by using particular programmes, amongst which Winamp. The listening can be done either via PC or by using the special apparatus commercially available. As they are so easily transferable, in the United States there has been already some denounces against who has started distributing them without paying any royalty.
The jurisprudence up to now agrees that a copy of a work can be made as a reserve, therefore, whoever has the CD of a singer can make a copy on MP3 to listen to on his computer, but cannot further distribute it, the same applies for whoever has a vinyl record and can reproduce it on tape or reproduce the same tape. Therefore, like any other musical piece, the MP3 file can be duplicated as a reserve copy.
Regarding the second question, some CD ROM are found on sale where there are some musical pieces and images inserted which can be freely used by the buyers. If this is the case, it is possible to liberally reproduce them, whilst the simple fact that the author is not indicated does not automatically allow the unconditioned use of the pieces.